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Overwhelmed by large new planting area



  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
     :D so lovely to receive replies thank you! I recognise your names from other threads! Like chatting to gardeners world celebrities :smiley:

    @Fire I have been here for nearly ten years. Started with zero experience in gardening as we moved from the capital to the deep deep rural countryside. It was a steep learning curve but I feel I am ready to take on the challenge of gardening on a relatively large scale. 

    I got tonnes and tonnes of top soil and put some of it here to create a flower bed. Husband went a bit crazy with the size. I guess it is his dream for me to have a massive flower bed, after mentioning it to him daily for six years. 

    @Fairygirl I have a couple of Persian Ironwood which are supposedly dwarf shrubs that would work well? 
    I hadn’t considered the work needed for perennials long term  :# never divided a plant in my life! 
    I read somewhere if the ground isnt water logged in the winter the dahlia tubers could survive the winter, given there is sufficient mulching. I am willing to try as I really can’t imagine having the time and inclination to lift 96 tubers annually…indefinitely. 

    It definitely crossed my mind to construct a “secret garden” with hidden spots to sit within the area. But I was concerned about the height restriction as the agreement was to not to obstruct, in any shape or form, the country view. 
    I admit I may be jumping the guns here in terms of planting as patience isn’t one of my strong suits. Just have an urge to fill the space up with flowers. 
    Great idea to establish a game plan first with schemes I like. 
    I have a particular preference for formal garden with box hedge and flowering shrubs like roses. 

    I am thinking perhaps I could use box hedge to divide the space into sections and work within them. 
  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    Brilliant @Fairygirl

    I was dreading exposing such large areas of soil without cover, spreading it with annual flower seeds would be glorious. A field of cornflowers and other annual cut flowers for the time being while I draw up a more permanent plan. 

    Perhaps… a circular feature in the centre for the bird bath surrounded by purple flowers or roses. With squares radiating outwards. Each section with perennials inside. Some for roses and some for peonies. 

    Only design trouble is this rectangle is right next to my crescent shaped terrace. Which i imagine would need a definitive boundary to finish off. 

    Any thoughts? 
    What should I do with the wall? Is tall climbing frames for climbing plants or leave it as it is? 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,303
    I was under the impression that Parrotia is a tree, or at least a very large shrub, so they might be best in another location nearby to give some shelter from wind. 
    If you like formal gardens then it might be better to work with that in mind. Mark out where you'd like them to be, and then repeat. There are lots of ideas you could build on with that, including a seat, perhaps with a small table for a morning coffee etc, and maybe a small screen/pergola area for climbers. That could be useful at the ends, to give definition. 
    Dahlias certainly won't appreciate being left in cold wet soil, but even if it's drier, it will still depend on your conditions as to whether they'd survive. I could never leave them out here, but maybe it's warm enough where you are. Someone else will be able to advise on that, or perhaps you could ask others in your area if anyone grows them.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    This is all becoming very exciting! Lots of ideas now thank youuuu! 

    I have successfully propagated box before so will do that again this summer. Box plight is apparently of a major concern so may have to find alternatives. I do have a lot of yews lying about in pots from six years ago. 

    Off to get a tape measurer and bamboo sticks to mark out the design! Also ring up to get quotes to get to construct a wall to hold the soil back. 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,172
    Hello Cecelia ,

    I can feel your enthusiasm radiating from your posts ! My advice (apologies if l'm repeating what others have said), is to take a breath and remember it doesn't all have to be done in one go.
    I can really appreciate your excitement, as l would be over the moon to have a new bed that big to play with :) 

    My geographical knowledge of Nottinghamshire isn't all that great, but your comments about the exposure to wind would be my greatest concern. 

    My advice (just to add to your load and also possibly repeating), is to think about mixed planting, evergreen shrubs, perennials both hardy and half hardy, spring bulbs etc.
     The secret is to try and aim for something of interest for as many months of the year as you can, and it may even mean not making use of the plants that you already have.

    It also means not doing everything in one go, gardens evolve, plants die or are moved around, and things change.
    Personally l would do as @Fire suggests, and concentrate on one section to begin with. Use the trick of setting plants out in pots, stepping back, and moving them until you're happy with the final location. Remember to look out from the house as well as the garden to see what it looks like from there. Make notes, take photos and drink tea/coffee while you deliberate. The mantra "right plant, right place" is always one to bear in mind. Try and picture what it will look like throughout the year, which isn't always easy.
    Maybe consider stepping stones as a means of access to the middle and back of the bed. Weeds turn up everywhere! 

    Finally (you'll be relieved to hear) , l would think carefully about the use of box. I don't know if the dreaded blight or box caterpillars have reached your area yet, but as someone who had box caterpillars last year, l'd advise trying an alternative if you can.
  • Loraine3Loraine3 Posts: 558
    Have you got a Gardening Club or similar in your area?  You can get advice from locals who know the problems with the wind and their solutions for it. Visit local gardens when open to see what others have done, I live in Devon and never dig up dahlias, but I think I have lost a couple and it wasn't even a cold winter! A brick wall to hold back the soil will cost a lot and will have to be put into the soil, a cheaper option would be sleepers.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,058
    Oh I wish I had this sort of a problem!

    I would go with annual wildflowers as a place holder while you think about what you want to achieve. Is a formal garden really the best option for the site or are there other possibilities you haven't explored?

    In my own (tiny) garden, I started out with one plan in mind (fairly formal) and changed my mind over the course of three years. I have been able to adapt what I did initially, luckily, but it's always worth taking a step back before initiating anything major, particularly regarding hard landscaping.

    Think about how you want to use the space, is it somewhere you want to be immersed in or is it a space to look at from the terrace? Do you want it to feel self contained or does it need to speak to the surrounding setting of the garden?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,303
    Having looked at your photo again - I honestly can't see a slope of any consequence, so you'd only need minimal edging, just to give you a physical barrier between the bed and the grass.  I thought you'd put 2 feet of soil on top of the existing ground, but maybe I've misunderstood.  :)
    I'd be wary of box too. There are plenty of alternatives if you want to do parterres etc. Euonymus and Lonicera [the shrubby ones] for example.
    The other thing I meant to ask is, as you're rural, you may find that there will be problems with 'wildlife' once you're planting up your borders. I'm thinking rabbits mainly. If so, that can massively affect your choices, but if you already have some planting in other areas, that might not be a problem at all. 
    I'm not sure I understand about your terrace either, and how you want to relate it to the new bit. Where is it in relation to the new area? 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Cecelia-LCecelia-L Posts: 103
    Thanks! Your post summarises exactly what I wish to achieve! Perhaps I could start from the middle and radiates outwards. A 2 metre radius circle in the centre of the area. Defined using alternative to box. Cover the remaining  bare ground geranium, annuals, bulbs etc for the time being. Love the idea of stepping stones for access. 

    All the surrounding villages have their own garden club which I am sure I will be welcome to join. Definitely worth looking into thanks 

    I have a particular soft spot for formal gardens and it appears to be less work overall? And just look so…orderly and pleasant. Hedge trimming seems, admittedly to my untrained eye, much easier than tending to perennials? Also less weeding perhaps? I have box hedge all the way around the house and I keep them in pretty good shape. Only needs cutting once or twice a year. 

    I would very much like the area to be part of the garden as opposed to self contained. This area is highly visible and I want to create a show piece. 

    I just measured the level the soil has dropped quite a bit since it was laid down. Only just about a foot and half. I did indeed lay top soil on top of existing lawn. Quite tricky to capture on photo. The cost of even a there course brick wall is substantially more now than pre brexit/Covid. I will have to come up with a less expensive alternative. 

    I live on the top of the hill, hence tremendous wind issue. I could plant a small beech hedge to frame another area that would be sufficiently close to break some of the wind. But that’s another headache for another day (year)! 

    I had really bad rabbit problems when I first started the orchard. Lost a Bramley apple and a sweet chestnut to the rabbits! They even nibble through tree guards. Thankfully all other trees survived. 

    Interestingly, ever since getting a lockdown kitten I haven’t had rabbit issues. It appears my brilliant ninja cat seems to be out all night prowling and protecting my plants :D 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,303
    Wind is a permanent feature here, and it's why you'd need to consider how you plant when you have that kind of site. We're only at 400 feet or so, but near open farmland and the moor isn't far away either, or the big windfarm.
    Other than my first proper garden when I was a stay at home mum, I used very few perennials in any of the  gardens I've had, apart from easier ones, because I worked full time and had a house to run and children to look after. Since retiring, I've been able to have more of them, but the shrubs are still there to help. It's about getting a balance that suits you, your lifestyle, and your garden   :)

    A whole bed/border with the same height of plant might be easier to do, but it's usually pretty boring. That's why varying heights are needed, and it's why supports need to be in place. Stems can easily be broken too, at any time of year, so tying in is also important with some taller plants. Climbers too. I can't just leave clematis to do their own thing all the time, or I'd lose half the flowering stems. 
    Using shrubs, and woodier plants can help enormously, and it can also help to extend your season.   :)
    Take your time, decide on the look you want, and then think about how to place your plants in various areas. Plants can always be moved anyway, and most of us do that at some point, but getting the initial structure of the plot right is worth taking time over.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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